Viru Keskus, Estonian commercial flagship center that is 73-percent owned by Pontos and well known in Finland, celebrates the largest renovation in its nearly 20-year history when it opened the 88-percent renewed center. The renovation that centered especially around food, beauty and health areas, has resulted in 47 new service and sales points and nearly 39 new store concepts. The two-year renovation covering a total of approximately 35 million euros in investments, is Estonia’s most modern buying and service experience. Viru Keskus now offers, for example, the latest concepts introduced by international brands in Estonia or the Baltics for the very first time.
The fully leased Viru Keskus attracts a startling 40,000 visitors daily, making it Estonia’s most visited place, even over sights such as the airport and main square of the Old Town. While the renovation program was still ongoing, Viru Keskus reached pre-pandemic sales levels. The owners, Pontos and investment company Kapitel, invested approximately 20 million in the renovation, and tenants’ investments totaled around 15 million. “We are extremely proud of how Viru Keskus as an agile and innovative operator has been able to integrate the physical, social and memorable aspects in its renovation. The result covers the interior, expanded passageways and store concepts. Viru Keskus is one of the pioneers of the Estonian and Baltic areas, paving the way in the shopping center sector. Collaboration with the city as well as the tram line to be constructed next to the center will further embed the center into its urban environment, making the already good location an excellent one,” comments Päivi Tomula, Investment Director of Real Estate at Pontos.
Viru Keskus now combines culinary experiences, hobby opportunities, well-being services and shopping into a coherent offering. The center’s food court has a terrace that opens to the adjacent Tammsaare Park, and the company has invested in indoor green areas and increasing natural light. Indoor passageways have been made smoother, and areas have been concentrated. The end result supports a modern shopping experience that is also cozy for the visitor.
The future of shopping centers relies on the ease of doing business and customer service quality. “We were able to carry out Viru Keskus’ renovation during the stormiest period imaginable for shopping centers, and the renovation is already yielding results. The center is a now a one-stop-shop for visitors and residents of the city. Our tenants, who have made use of the renovation and updated their offering, have increased sales by even 30%. The increase of the average purchase has also been notable,” says Gertti Kogermann, CEO of Viru Keskus.
In addition to the customer experience and experientiality, Viru Keskus pioneers in use-phase environmental responsibility: the company is the only Baltic shopping center with the highest, platinum-level LEED O&M Certificate*. The recognition has been awarded for high energy efficiency, recycling and the sustainable use of natural resources. A high environmental rating for an old building is unique. Viru Keskus has for long achieved annual total energy savings of 15 percent by utilizing the self-learning, AI-based real estate automation management software by Pontos’ other portfolio company R8 Technologies. Due to its smart solutions, Viru Keskus can provide nearly 50 percent lower maintenance costs to its tenant compared with corresponding shopping centers in the Baltics.
* Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for Operations & Maintenance (O&M). LEED certification is the world’s most widely used green building rating system.
Contents of the renovation
Renewed areas and supplementary services:
– The Ilusfäär floor and Kaubamaja’s World of Beauty have been dedicated to beauty and health services. The customer can enjoy the best shopping center for beauty services, in addition to sports and entertainment services, health services and professional aesthetic beauty procedures under a single roof.
– The first floor has a 15-restaurant food and restaurant hub. The high-quality street food concept brings together some of Estonia’s finest brands, restaurant owners and well-known chefs, including also Mikkeller’s artisan beer restaurant.
– The roof of the center has a padel court.
– Tallinn’s renowned bookstore, also awarded as the world’s best bookstore 2022 has been renovated, along with its lunch café Literaat. The cozy atmosphere, including armchairs and high-quality food selection, encourages people to read.
Highlights from the new stores and store concepts:
– Flagship stores of Nike and Adidas Originals, with the Adidas store as the fourth in Europe and Nike’s store as the largest in the Baltics
– Women’s, men’s and children’s fashion brand ARKET as the first in Eastern Europe
– A café in conjunction with ARKET, developed by the award-winning Swedish chef Martin Berg. The café encourages sustainable consumption, providing organic coffees, a large vegetarian menu as well as seasonal baked goods and foods. The café also provides a spectacular view of the Old Town.
– New stores and store concepts: Pinko, adidas Originals, Under Armour, Guess by Marciano, Apple
– International brands, including GANT and many others with renewed store concepts delight customers with new and improved stores.
– GRENARDI, a private service jewelry shop, offers a wide selection of modern jewelry from the hearts of European fashion capitals.